Records Of 14 Middle School Students To Be Turned Over In Assault Lawsuit

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The names of 14 middle school students who reportedly had “interactions” with a 13-year-old boy before he was injured in a 2020 schoolyard attack were provided to attorneys for the boy’s mother last week.

The release of the names comes as the Sierra Vista Unified School District (SVUSD) prepares to turn over detailed school records pertaining to those current or former Joyce Clark Middle School students after a Cochise County judge overruled objections from parents for four of those students during a May 11 hearing.

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The students’ records have been ordered disclosed as part of a lawsuit against SVUSD’s governing board, several district employees, and Cochise County School Superintendent Jacqui Clay following the Feb. 28, 2020 assault which left the then-seventh grader with a severe knee injury, eye bruising, and a shoe print imbedded on his face.

A school counselor knew of the planned attack but took no action to protect the boy, according to court records.  As a result, the boy headed to his bus when the final bell rang for the school day, believing the matter was resolved.

Instead, he was assaulted by three female students as other students cheered on the attackers and yelled slurs regarding the boy’s sexual orientation and race. The attack, which was recorded by several students, continued for nearly three minutes until the first school official intervened.

Despite the boy’s obvious injuries, school officials did not call his mother, the police, nor EMTs. In addition, the attackers and onlookers were not questioned by school officials at the time and none of their phones were seized as evidence.

There has also been evidence obtained showing the boy reported numerous “bullying and ridicule” incidents at the school dating as far back as 2017. It is those records which Judge John Kelliher ordered be provided by SVUSD to the mother’s attorneys.

Kelliher also recently signed an updated scheduling order, giving the parties until May 27 to participate in a settlement conference in hopes of resolving the lawsuit without a trial. If a settlement is not worked out, the parties must disclose all of their witnesses by Aug. 26, with a trial setting conference set for Dec. 16.

It is likely that the six-day trial would then begin in Spring 2023.

In the meantime, Clay has filed a motion for judgment seeking a court order from Kelliher that she is not liable for any damages. The boy’s mother reportedly complained to Clay in November 2019 about the ongoing bullying issues at Joyce Clark Middle School.

But in her motion for judgment, Clay argues the lawsuit does not argue that she promised anything to the mother or the student.

“The County Superintendent’s duties are established by statute, and none of those duties require the Superintendent to become involved in school level or district level discipline,” according to the motion for judgment. “Superintendent Clay thus owed no statutory duty to Plaintiff or the Minor to enforce any school district policy.”

The State of Arizona was previously listed as a defendant in the lawsuit but was dismissed by agreement of the parties. 

READ MORE ON THE LAWSUIT: HERE